Texas plant explosion: 12 now confirmed dead, more than 200 injured
In a press conference this morning, Jason Reyes, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, released updated information on the explosion. There have been 12 bodies recovered, Reyes said, with 200 injured. Reyes said that 50 homes have been destroyed, and that search and rescue operations continue this morning. There are still 25 homes to be cleared, with 150 buildings already cleared. No rescues have been reported during the search and rescue operation thus far. Reyes spoke only for a few minutes and didn’t take many questions. The area of most damage is still being treated as a crime scene and remains closed to the public.
Several reports have looked into how state and federal regulators may have overlooked dangers at the fertilizer plant. At a press conference Thursday, McLennan County Chief Deputy Sheriff said that ammonium nitrate present at the plant, a powerful explosive, was making search and rescue efforts difficult and a “volatile situation.”
As we reported yesterday, the plant had gone without a permit for two years and had been the subject of one complaint to the state environmental regulator, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The complaint said that the “ammonia smell [was] very bad last night from Fertilizer Plant,” and that the smell “lingered until after they went to bed.” Residents echoed those complaints in interviews with StateImpact Texas and KUT News in West Thursday.